For 10 days in March, eleven YES alumni volunteered as cultural partners for the Rotaplast Medical Mission convoy in Luxor. Rotaplast Medical Mission is a medical convoy providing reconstructive surgery for children from underprivileged communities who were born with cleft palates and harelips or who have experienced scarring from burns. It is a collaboration between the Medical Convoy Committee of Rotary District 2451 in Egypt, Rotaplast International, Inc., AFS Egypt and the Ministry of Health. YES alumni were joined by other volunteers from AFS Egypt, 27 Rotary volunteers, some of whom were Egyptian doctors, and 26 Rotaplast volunteer plastic surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists and speech pathologists.
The YES alumni played key roles in all aspects of this complex event, including coordinating airport and hotel logistics, organizing medical equipment, helping American medical staff communicate with local staff at the Luxor International Hospital, registering patients, serving as interpreters between American medical staff and parents, entertaining the children before surgeries with toys, story-telling, coloring books, puppet shows and arts and crafts, and providing meals for patients’ families.
Alumna Hania Moharam (YES ’17, hosted with AFS in Charlotte, SC) reflects, “Having the chance to work with Rotaplast has been a life changing and mind widening experience. Volunteering at a hospital was a new experience for me. I had an even more unique experience by having the chance to assist the speech pathologist and play a significant role by coming up with words that combine a specific two or more letters in Arabic to use for a speech test, comforting patients before testing and asking them to repeat the words after me to spot the speaking issue. During my YES exchange year, I had the chance to deal with people from different cultures, but this experience was totally different and taught me many new life lessons."
“I've translated for and to the doctors and the patients, registered the patients, organized charts and folders, comforted patients and their parents, interviewed some families, played and entertained the children,” wrote YES alumna Jessy Elgawaly (YES ’16, hosted with PAX in Georgia). “I spent a lot of time playing with the children and making activities for them, which taught me patience and passion. The children were very sweet and loving. Translating also benefited me very much, since my major in university is Languages and Translation. I'm very honored to have been a part of this and to be able to see the change that was made. These children's lives will be changed forever. Seeing the smiles and joy of the patients and their families gave me so much happiness, nothing is better than bringing happiness to the lives of others. We also had a cultural night for the Rotaplast team, in which we dressed, sang, danced and ate traditional Egyptian foods.”
Over the ten-day period, a total of 236 patients were examined and 93 surgeries were performed.
YES alumni were proud to be active global citizens through a cross-cultural collaboration that helped put smiles on children’s faces.
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